IT WAS almost noon in Kampung Baru Malim Nawar, Kampar.
Several villagers who were chatting at a noodle stall next to SJK(C) Ying Sing seemed oblivious to the glare of the sun.
While they were quick to identify a stranger in their midst, they also warmed up easily to visitors.
The stall at the front porch of a family house was manned by three sisters – Ah Chan, 67, Ah Kuen, 66, and Ah Fong, 57.
“My mother started this stall at least 50 years ago.
“Over 10 of us stayed in this house in the old days,” said Ah Kuen who has eight siblings.
Ah Chan and Ah Fong, who are single, continue to stay in the house, while their sister and her 70-year-old husband live nearby.
“The village is very quiet and we find company in our neighbours,” said Ah Kuen, whose four children aged between 46 and 33 work and stay outside the village.
Malim Nawar, a former mining town, saw massive unemployment after the world tin market crashed in 1985.
This triggered an exodus from the village mostly to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and other countries.
Those who stayed behind operate small family businesses like eateries and Ah Kuen said there were over 30 in the village.
She noted business was slow.
“We used to have pupils coming to our stall during recess in the old days, but the school does not allow this anymore.
“Some villagers also cook breakfast at home to cut cost.
“Everything is so expensive nowadays,” she lamented.
The economy in the village could be better though.
Some villagers have turned to vegetable and fruit farming as well as fish breeding on the ex-mining land.
While agriculture is a promising sector, many farmers have problems getting a lease or title for their land from the authorities. Such uncertainty has stifled growth.
The farmers and fish breeders may see a change of fortune soon.
Kampar MCA chairman Datuk Lee Chee Leong has announced plans to promote eco-tourism and agrotourism in Kampar.
He is also in the process of helping the farmers and fish breeders get a lease for their land.
The time is ripe for tourism development in Malim Nawar – a place blessed with natural beauty.
In fact, the more adventurous travellers have discovered Malim Nawar some time ago, posting beautiful pictures on social media.
Tanjung Tualang, about 18km away, is the place for seafood for locals and tourists alike.
Ah Kuen also pointed out that there was a new road linking Malim Nawar to Bandar Baru Kampar – a booming university town which houses Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.
The upcoming UTAR Hospital in Bandar Baru Kampar is scheduled to open three years from now.
It will offer modern and traditional Chinese medicine and target medical tourism.
Ah Kuen, who waits for weekends and public holidays to enjoy better business, may have more to look forward to soon.